Help! My Husband Tried to Record My Friend Undressing.

Advice on manners and morals.
Nov. 7 2013 6:00 AM

Cad Cam

My husband tried to record my friend undressing—and then told us about it!

Emily Yoffe.
Emily Yoffe

Photo by Teresa Castracane.

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Dear Prudence,
My husband is a man of excellent character. We don’t keep secrets from each other; we even share our passwords. We’ve been together four years and married for one. A month ago, my best friend, who is quite large-chested, stayed the night at our house. The three of us had quite a bit to drink. In the morning my husband sat me and my friend down and made a confession. He said he had put his phone in her bedroom hoping to make a video of her getting undressed, but he forgot to hit the record button. He said he was telling us because he felt so guilty and that he was sorry that what he intended to do was so super creepy. I was very angry and made sure he really understood how badly he'd hurt me and my friend. My friend said what he tried to do was terrible, but we all agreed to move on. He spent weeks apologizing profusely. We established he didn’t have an emotional attraction to my friend and this was not part of a pattern of behavior. He explained he felt as if he wasn't himself for a few minutes, and it scared him. He was very angry with himself, but he's been able to work through and forgive himself. Now, a month later my friend says she needs therapy for what happened, and is convinced that my husband has some sort of deep sexual and psychological problem. I understand she feels violated; however, I can't help but feel that she is projecting some of her other issues into this situation. She told another close friend, who encouraged her to file a report with the police on my husband. I asked her not to. The second friend then called and criticized me for telling the first friend not to call the police. So now, I’m angry at my husband for causing a rift in my two closest friendships, and angry at my friends for wanting to take such drastic action against him (they’ve both decided not to contact the police). I’m concerned they will tell more people and my husband and I will have to just live with the consequences. I’m thinking of ending my friendship with the two women, even though I know one is the victim—thankfully we live in different cities—because I don’t see how we’ll remain close as the years go on and we have children. I just don’t know what to do or think.

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—What a Mess

Dear Mess,
The gods of technology intervened to stay your husband’s hand from his dastardly deed. Upon realizing he didn’t actually commit his offense, your husband should have taken this whole disturbing episode as a sign that he needed to quietly get help. Instead, he doubled down and for some outlandish reason revealed his failed plan. Anyone hearing this story is going to find it hard to believe this was the first and only time your husband has ever attempted something so troubling. On the other hand, his telling you two indicates he is not a skilled voyeur, nor is he psychologically astute. His confession is the type made by a miscreant to relieve the burden of guilt, but that ends up spreading toxin to everyone it touches. How lovely for your husband that he has been able to forgive himself. In the meantime, your two closest friendships are shattered. I agree with you that the discomfort you and your friends will feel around each other will probably be impossible to overcome. It was also unnecessary overkill on their part to suggest calling the police. Sherlock Holmes may have looked into the dog that didn’t bark, but the police have better things to do than investigate the breasts that didn’t get filmed. If your friends blab to others who then ask you about it, just say nothing happened and there’s nothing to talk about. Since your friend says she needs therapy because of this, it would be a gesture of goodwill to pay for a predetermined number of sessions. While you’re at it, make that a twofer. I think you should insist that your husband talk this out with a professional. He scared himself, and you, and he needs to put the matter to rest.

Dear Prudence: Sex Tape of an Ex

Dear Prudence,
I have now been with my lovely, wonderful, and smart girlfriend for nearly three years and I love her. We started dating as we were nearing graduation at different colleges. She has settled successfully into fashion merchandising, her area of study, while I have struggled to find a footing in a creative field after studying liberal arts. We enjoy each other's company immensely and I am mostly content. But there is one thing that undermines my full contentment: She is uninterested in pursuing intellectual hobbies and interests outside her work and social life, while I am committed to discovering and pursuing cultural and intellectual stimulation. She has a naturally high intellect, but it would seem she has a lazy mind. She rarely reads anything but online articles, displays no interest in developing an ideological or political viewpoint, and ignores most news. I have encouraged her repeatedly to seek out books, hobbies, and pursuits of more cultural relevancy rather than shopping and being social with friends, but this is met with a shrug. Am I crazy for wanting to raise the bar of my intellectual entanglement as a necessary part of my romantic relationship with this girl? Or have my liberal arts studies and well-adjusted, progressive middle-class background made me a pretentious blowhard? Her family background is one of economic hardship, divorce, and no higher education.

—Smart Girlfriend, Lazy Mind

Dear Mind,
The question you pose has an inherently paradoxical nature. It is perfectly reasonable to want a partner you feel shares your intellectual bent; you’re also a pretentious blowhard. You say your girlfriend has a lazy mind, but your being unemployed (and apparently not having to worry about student debt) leaves you with many hours to devote to perfecting your intellect. She’s actually busy with her career, which must be as satisfying as it is necessary since you say she comes from a family with no financial resources. You put her down for enjoying shopping and hanging out with friends. But since she’s in the fashion industry, shopping is part of her continuing education and a professional necessity. Maybe she also has more friends than you do; I’m liking her better than I like you. However lazy you say her mind is, I bet your girlfriend understands that though you can transform someone’s fashion style, you can’t remake someone else’s mind. If you wish you could totally do over the way your beloved thinks, maybe you need to apply your own intellectual firepower to the question of whether you really love her.

—Prudie

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